Poisonous Animals

Gila Monster

Gila monster Heloderma suspectum Description: Robust, with a large head and a heavy tail. Its body is covered with beadlike scales. It is capable of storing fat against lean times when food is scarce. Its color is striking in rich blacks laced with yellow or pinkish scales. Characteristics: Not an…
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Poisonous Animals

Yellow Bellied Sea Snake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.

Yellow-bellied sea snake Pelamis platurus Description: Upper part of body is black or dark brown and lower part is bright yellow. Characteristics: A highly venomous snake belonging to the cobra family. This snake is truly of the pelagic species - it never leaves the water to come to shore. It…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the Mojave (Mohave) rattlesnake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.

Mojave rattlesnake Crotalus scutulatus   Description: The Mojave Rattlesnake’s (also known as Mohave Rattlesnake, Mojave Green, Mojave Diamond Rattlesnake, and Mojave Rattler) entire body is a cream or sandy color, sometimes pale green (depending upon its surroundings) with darker diamond-shaped markings bordered by lighter-colored scales and black bands around the…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.

Eastern diamondback rattlesnake Crotalus adamanteus Description: Dark brown or black, outlined by a row of cream or yellowish scales. Ground color is olive to brown. Characteristics: The largest venomous snake in the United States. Large snakes can have fangs that measure centimeters (1 inch) in a straight line. This species…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the Cottonmouth snake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.

Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus Description: Also known as water moccasin, swamp moccasin or black moccasin.  Colors are variable. Adults are uniformly olive brown or black. The young and subadults are strongly crossbanded with dark brown. Characteristics: These dangerous semiaquatic snakes closely resemble harmless water snakes that have the same habitat. Therefore,…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the Coral snake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.

Coral snake Micrurus fulvius Description: The Coral Snake is colorfully marked with rings that are bright blacks, reds, and yellows in color.  Some of the colored bands, particularly the red bands, may be speckled.  Other non-poisonous species have similar colors and markings including the Scarlet Snake and the Milk Snake. …
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Poisonous Animals

All about the American copperhead snake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.

American copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix Description: Copperhead snakes, also known as death adder, highland moccasin, red snake, and oak snake,  have a chestnut color that dominates overall, with darker crossbands of rich browns that grow darker towards the edges and become narrower on top and widen at the bottom.  Their pale…
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Poisonous Animals

All about wasps and hornets – their habitat, sting, treatment, and how to avoid their bite.

Wasps and hornets Description: The Wasp, or Hornet (also known as Dirt Daubers, Mud Daubers, Potter Wasps, Velvet Ants, Yellowjackets, Fairyflies), is a rather generic suborder of insects.  A Wasp generally a smooth-bodied, slender stinging insects. Like a Bee, Wasps have two pairs of wings, a stinger (only the female…
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Poisonous Animals

All about bees – their habitat, sting, and how to avoid being attacked

Bee Description: Bees are flying insects with brown or black, hairy, fuzz-covered bodies (the hair on their body is used to collect pollen). The bee’s body typically has 3 or 5 dark, black and yellow or orangish, colored hair bands around their body and lack the “thin” abdomen found in…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the Centipede – their habitat, sting, treatment, and how to avoid their bite.

Centipede Description: Centipedes have multi-jointed body, each segment having a pair of legs, growing to 30 centimeters (12 inches) long, with each pair slightly longer than the pair in front of it. Centipedes are typically dull orange, red to brown (species that live underground may have no color pigmentation), with…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the Black Widow Spider or Widow Spider – their habitat, sting, treatment, and how to avoid their bite.

Black Widow spider Latrodectus species Description: Black Widow Spiders are dark, usually black, medium sized spiders with light red or orange markings (typically in the shape of an hourglass) on female's abdomen (underneath the spider’s body).  Black Widow Spiders (or Widow Spiders) have dark, glossy, globular bodies about 1/2 inch…
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Poisonous Animals

All about the tarantulas – their habitat, sting, treatment, and how to avoid their bite.

Tarantula Theraphosidae and Lycosa species Description: Very large, brown, black, reddish, hairy spiders. Tarantula size ranges from 1-4 inches with legs as long as 12 inches.  Most tarantulas are brown.  Tarantulas have eight legs and two additional appendages that they use to grip prey.  Large fangs that fold much like…
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Poisonous Animals

Brown recluse spider – how to identify, avoid, and treat brown recluse bites.

Brown house spider or brown recluse spider Loxosceles reclusa Description: The Brown Recluse spider, also known as fiddleback spider, brown fiddler, or violin spider, may be cream colored, blackish gray, or brown to black with obvious "fiddle" on back of head and thorax. The darker violin shape is located on…
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Poisonous Animals

Scorpion – how to identify, avoid, and treat scorpion stings.

Scorpion Scorpionidae order Description: Scorpions are dull brown, yellow, or black (the most common is the brown Striped Bark Scorpion).  Their color often camouflages them and makes it difficult to see amongst rocks and dirt.  They have eight legs and distinctive to 20-centimeter long (3- to 8-inch long) lobster-like pincers…
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Poisonous Plants

Water hemlock or spotted cowbane – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Water hemlock or spotted cowbane Cicuta maculata Parsley (Apiaceae) Family Description: The Water Hemlock, also known as spotted water hemlock, spotted parsley, spotted cowbane, and the suicide root, is perennial herb in the carrot family.  It is very difficult to distinguish it from other, similar looking plants.  Water Hemlock may…
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Poisonous Plants

Trumpet vine or trumpet creeper – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Trumpet vine or trumpet creeper Campsis radicans Trumpet creeper (Bignoniaceae) Family Description: The large, vigorous, woody Trumpet Vine or Trumpet Creeper may climb to 15 meters (45 feet) high.  It has pea-like fruit capsules. The oval leaves are pinnately compound, growing opposite to each other, 8 to 12 sharply toothed…
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Poisonous Plants

Rosary pea or crab’s eyes – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Rosary pea or crab's eyes Abrus precatorius Leguminosae (Fabaceae) Family Description: The Rosary Pea plant (also known as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Rosary Pea, John Crow Bead, Precatory bean,Indian Licorice, Akar Saga, Giddee Giddee or Jumbie Bead) is a small, slender, high-climbing vine that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges.  It…
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Poisonous Plants

Poison Sumac – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Poison sumac Toxicodendron vernix Cashew (Anacardiacese) Family Description: Poison sumac is a woody shrub or small tree that grows to meters (28 feet) tall with rough, scaly bark. It has alternate, pinnately compound leafstalks with 7 to 13 smooth edged leaflets per leaf.  The leaflets are oval to oblong, taper…
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Poisonous Plants

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Poison ivy and poison oak Toxicodendron radicans and Toxicodendron diversilobum (previously Toxicodendron diversibba) Cashew (Anacardiacese) Family Description: These two plants are quite similar in appearance and will often crossbreed to make a hybrid. Both have alternate, compound leaves with three leaflets.  The oil in the plants is the primary culprit…
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Poisonous Plants

Poison hemlock, fool’s parsley – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Poison hemlock, fool's parsley Conium maculatum Parsley (Apiaceae) Family Description: The poison hemlock plant (also known as Beaver Poison, Herb Bennet, Musquash Root, Poison Parsley, Spotted Corobane, and Spotted Hemlock) is a biennial herb that may grow to meters (8 feet) high. The smooth, hollow green stem may or may…
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Poisonous Plants

Physic nut or Jatropha – tropical plant typically used as a poison has medicinal uses too

Physic nut Jatropha curcas Spurge (Euphoriaceae) Family Description: The Physic nut, or Jatropha plant, is a shrub or small tree found in the American tropics.  Also known as Barbados Nut, Purging Nut, Black Vomit Nut, Physic Nut, or JCL, the plant can reach a height of 6 meters (20 feet)…
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Poisonous Plants

Oleander – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Oleander Nerium oleander Dogbane (Apocynaceae) Family Description: The poisonous Oleander shrub (or small tree) grows to about 9 meters (27 feet), with alternate, very straight, thick, leathery, dark green, long (2-8 inches), narrow (1 inch), lance-shaped leaves. Leaves typically grow in pairs or whorls of three.  Mature plants have grayish…
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Poisonous Plants

Manchineel – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Manchineel Hippomane mancinella Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) Family Description: The deadly Manchineel tree (sometimes written “manchioneel”) is a flowering tree reaching up to 15 meters (45 feet) high with greyish or brown, scaly or fissured bark and alternate, shiny green leaves and spikes of small greenish flowers. The Manchineel tree’s glossy leaves…
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Poisonous Plants

Lantana – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Lantana Lantana camara Vervain (Verbenaceae) Family Description: The poisonous Lantana plant, also known as Spanish Flag, Big Sage, Blacksage, Wild Sage, Prickly Lantana, or West Indian Lantana, is a low erect, shrub-like plant that may grow up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) high. It has opposite, round to oval shaped…
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